Virgin Media “Satellite TV Upgrade Pack” advert banned

ASA upholds Sky's complaint about legal disclaimer but rejects picture quality grievance

A Virgin Media marketing campaign has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after rival BSkyB complained. But a second Sky complaint against Virgin claims of superior picture quality has been rejected.

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In June, Virgin Media posted out what it called a “Satellite TV Upgrade Pack”, which specified “Upgrade to a better TV experience… End frozen pictures caused by bad weather”. Sky argued that the pack “was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication” as, while it did include a legal disclaimer, it was not sufficiently prominent.

Virgin Media disputed the claim but the ASA ruled that the size and positioning of the disclaimer information “meant it was likely to be overlooked by consumers and that consumers would therefore be unaware that the envelope contained promotional material from Virgin.”

However, the ASA did not uphold Sky’s related challenge about the “better TV experience” and picture quality issues. The advertising body said: “We understand that it was the case that satellite signals, and therefore picture quality, could be affected by bad weather, whereas cable TV would not be affected in that way, and we considered it was not misleading for Virgin to refer to that in their advertising.

“We also considered that consumers were likely to regard a TV service that was not affected by bad weather to be providing a ‘better TV experience’ than one that was. We concluded that the claims were not misleading in that regard.”

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Virgin Media has been directed to make its marketing communications clearer in future and to not repeat this specific ad again.